S: The Maiorano Family in Spain and Italy (June 2012)
BC: Ron, Carrie | Hailee, Hilary | & Hannah
1: OUR ROUTE
2: Royal Caribbean Cruise, Mariner of the Seas June 9-16, 2012 | Dragon's Lair - Hannah's favorite place on the ship!
3: Dad looking for his blackberry, which popped off his belt and into the water while we were trying to get a picture on the rocks | Hailee, Hilary, and Hannah on the rocks of Santa Margherita Ligure while we were waiting for a ferry that would take us to Portofino
4: Champagne that was left in our room from a secret admirer | Portofino, Italy
5: Ajaccio, Corsica (France) | Napoleon's house
7: Dad's first (and probably last) jumping picture! | Mallorca, Spain | Tapas in the square
8: VALENCIA, Spain
9: Hannah and her art museums
10: Mom & Guido | Sitting down to a 5 course meal at our B&B in SORRENTO (which was 5-7 km away, not 1.7 km from the train station, and uphill! - "Mamma, Mappo") | Dad with his audio guide | POMPEII | Hannah in the brothel
11: AMALFI COAST We had a driver take us to Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello all in one day. There were pretty flowers, lemon groves, and limoncello everywhere!
12: The beach at Amalfi | Outside the ceramic shop where mom ordered a custom made table with sunflowers and all our names on it
13: Jumping picture in the gardens of Ravello
14: THE BLUE GROTTO
16: The beach on Capri
17: ROME | The Pantheon, The Trevi Fountain, The Forum
19: The Path of Illumination Castel San Angelo St. Peter's Square Piazza Navona Santa Maria Della Vittoria
20: Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 9-16, 2012) We flew into Rome Thursday night and spent Friday exploring before taking the train out to Civitavecchia on Saturday to board the cruise ship. Unfortunately dad's luggage didn't make it on our second flight so we didn't get it until the middle of the night. Once we got to the ship and checked in, we unpacked and went to the gym. Then we explored the ship, watched a Euro soccer game, and had a late dinner in the dining room. At dinner we sat with Marina and Maria - both from Italy, one speaking both English and Italian and one only Italian. We also met our servers for the week – Edison from India and a woman from the Philippines. After that, Hailee, Hilary and Hannah went out to the "Dragon's Lair" for some dancing. Upon arriving, a very young looking server asked our ages (as you had to be 18 to be in there). After telling him how old we were he said he was 19! (We later found out that he was actually 27). Day 1: Genoa, Italy We got up early for breakfast and met in the ship's theatre for our excursion. From Genoa we took a bus to Santa Margherita Ligure where we got an hour of free time to walk around and explore. Then we took a ferry over to Portofino. While waiting for this ferry we decided to take a picture on the rocks, but that didn't happen as dad's blackberry popped off his belt and fell into the water! Portofino was a nice little town with a lot of cute shops - Hailee bought some postcards and took a lot of pictures. We also walked around with a really nice couple from Georgia who also had three daughters (though they were not along on the cruise). Once we took the ferry and bus back to Genoa, we walked to a food market and bought sandwiches for lunch. We walked around and explored and Hailee got a Genoa soccer scarf as a souvenir. Once we were back on the ship we spent some time by the pool and watched another Euro soccer game. After showering and having a 9:15 dinner, the 3 H’s went to check out the casino. Day 2: Corsica, France After breakfast we met for our excursion to the city of Ajaccio – where Napoleon was from! We had a tour guide walk us around town, showing us various buildings and monuments. We saw where Napoleon lived, a fortress, and an art museum. We met a couple from California who are both 6th grade teachers that we spent some time with later on the cruise. After the tour was over, our family did some shopping along the narrow streets. Mom, Hilary & Hannah went back to the boat while dad and Hailee walked over to the beach to check it out and take some pictures. Once we were back on board the ship we went to the gym and showered for an earlier dinner (7:15pm). After dinner the 3 H’s went to the pub to watch the later soccer game. We met a guy who works on the ship as a drummer for the show in the theatre and talked to him for a while. After that we went to the Dragon’s Lair to dance, which is Hilary’s favorite physical activity. Day 3: Barcelona, Spain We met for our shore excursion after breakfast that toured the city. We first saw a cathedral, where, in a shop out front, Hailee and Hilary bought a mosaic bull that said Barcelona as a souvenir. After that we went to the famous Basilica that remains unfinished – La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family). The original architect got hit by a bus and couldn’t finish it. The plans are for it to be finished in 2027, which will be 100 years from when it was started. After the tour was over, we ate Tapas for lunch as a family just off of the “Rambla”. We explored the Rambla more after lunch and then went to a museum of the underground Roman ruins of the city. Once we were back on board we watched another Euro soccer game and showered for the 9:15pm dinner.
21: Day 4: Mallorca, Spain At this port we decided to explore on our own rather than take a tour. We saw a huge church, which we took jumping pictures in front of, and then shopped around for some souvenirs. Mallorca is known for man-made pearls so we each bought some jewelry (earrings, necklaces, bracelets). After walking around a bit more we ended up having lunch in a big square – you guessed it, TAPAS. More shopping after that – 3 H’s found a clothing store called “Pull & Bear” where we got some stuff. Once we got back on the ship we went to the pool and the gym before showering for the 7:15pm dinner. Then we watched soccer at the pub with two guys that we met who were twins from Washington, DC. It also turned out they were going to be on our tour the next day. After the soccer game the pub hosted British trivia, which we failed miserably at – only getting 2/30 correct. Day 5: Valencia, Spain The tour we went on led us through the highlights of the city, which included an area full of new modern buildings that were built for a science center among other things. We then saw a church (nothing new, we saw multiple in each city on this trip). After stopping at an indoor market where we bought some dried fruit, everyone boarded a bus that we drove out of the city to tour some caves. We first got on a small gondola type boat that we rode through the caves. The water was lit up with lights and it was quiet in there. There were some really low points that we had to watch our heads. After the tour was over mom, dad, and Hannah decided to stay in the city and go to an art museum. Hailee and Hilary were all “museumed-out” and went back to the boat. We started by the pool and then Hailee went to the gym. After showering and watching the first half of the soccer game, we went to the 7:15pm dinner. We then watched the later soccer game at the pub, followed by some drinking and dancing at the Dragon’s Lair. We hung out with our favorite server (the one we found out who was actually 27) and learned that he has lived in 12 countries and speaks 4 languages fluently. Day 6: At sea Today was spent at sea so we finally got to sleep in! It was definitely needed as we were up late the night before. Mom, dad, and Hannah went to the gym that morning. After waking up Hailee and Hilary got some brunch and then spent a few hours by the pool. Our favorite server came and visited as he was walking around getting drinks for people. It was pretty windy up there but they had events going on to keep us entertained: Lady’s bicep competition followed by a belly flop competition. After being in the sun for a while we all relaxed in mom and dad’s room because it was more spacious and had a balcony. Around 5pm Hannah went to get a massage and Hailee went to the gym. We then watched soccer by the pool and had a late dinner at 9:15pm. After that we all packed our bags with all the clothes we brought and souvenirs we bought. Day 7: Disembark After getting up for an early breakfast we went back up to our rooms to bring our bags down and get off the ship. We got the wine we had bought back, as well as a dagger Hannah bought – we were not allowed to have them with us on the ship. After we got off, we walked to the train station on made our way to Napoli.
22: ITALIA Day 1: Napoli Once we got to Napoli and checked into the hotel, we set off to explore the city. A couple things we noticed right away was how crazy the traffic was (we were surprised none of us were hit by scooters or cars while trying to cross the street), and how there was graffiti everywhere, even on historic buildings and monuments. We walked through the historic part of town, also known as the “open air museum”. We found a restaurant to eat lunch in and had some amazing Neapolitan lasagna. Hannah also seemed in much better spirits after having some wine. After walking around a bit more mom and Hilary decided to go back to the hotel and stop and see the duomo on their way. Hailee, Hannah & dad went to a museum: Museum Archeologico. They had a lot of artifacts that were recovered from Pompeii, including an exhibit of phalluses. After resting at the hotel we all went out for a late dinner at a nearby pizza place where we had delicious pizza margherita AND got to watch some soccer. Day 2: Sorrento We had an early breakfast at the hotel and then set off to take the train to Sorrento, stopping in Pompeii. The train was not air-conditioned and, it being Saturday was full of Italian teenagers on their way to the beach. It was interesting to see how their fashion sense, both in clothes and hairstyles, differed from ours back in North America. Once we got to Pompeii we paid to store our luggage while we toured the city. Dad and Hannah, of course, had the audio guides. It was a very hot day and after spending a few hours walking around and taking pictures we were ready to head out. We did manage to tour the brothel and get a few pictures in there as well – they had what seemed to be “menus” on the walls. We took another train, this one air-conditioned, to Sorrento, where we were planning on walking to our B&B. After all, the map mom printed out showed it only being 1.7 km away. We soon learned that this map was not accurate, as the roads were not marked well, were steep, and after asking someone, our B&B was more like 7 km away! We borrowed a phone to call the B&B and a man named Luigi came to pick us up in a small van. After loading all of our luggage, and us we drove up steep roads that looked to be too narrow for us to pass through. We got there in one piece and took our luggage to our rooms, where there was a balcony with a beautiful view of Sorrento and the ocean. We were very hungry after our journey and although it was between meal times, we asked if they could whip something up for us. We sat on the terrace as the matriarch of the B&B brought out 5 plates (one for each of us) of different fried and breaded vegetables. We had some wine and were content. But then, we got 4 more plates of food, EACH. There was a pasta dish, another with meat and salad, then some watermelon, and a dessert plate to finish it off. Needless to say we were stuffed. We did not feel up to going down into Sorrento after that so we spent some time by the pool, watched the sunset from our balcony, and watched some more Euro soccer. Day 3: Amalfi Coast After having breakfast on the terrace of our B&B, Luigi drove us down the narrow streets to meet the driver we hired to take us around the Amalfi Coast from 9-5. We all piled into the van and set off to Positano. We stopped at a lookout point for a group picture, and then again to buy some cherries and get another picture overlooking Positano. We were then dropped off at the top of Positano (all these towns are on a downward slope to the ocean and there is often only one main road winding through them with steep and narrow walkways and stairs between the buildings). As we walked down the path, ducking in and out of shops, we wished we had more than an hour to spend in the quaint little ocean town. There were beautiful flowers everywhere and the Amalfi coast was known for their lemon groves. Most inhabitants made their own limoncello. The second stop on our day trip was to Amalfi, where we did more shopping and picture-taking. On our way to the 3rd town we stopped at a ceramics warehouse and mom bought a custom 43cm table to be painted with sunflowers and all of our names on it. It will be shipped to us after it’s done. The 3rd and final town was Ravello, where our driver took us to a family owned restaurant for lunch. We had a couple plates of antipasta, two liters of wine, 6 kinds of pasta, and 4 kinds of dessert! The Italians sure know how to eat! After lunch we walked around the city and paid to explore the gardens that offered an amazing view of the ocean. Once we drove back to our B&B (which took at least an hour) we relaxed for a bit by the pool and then ate another 5-course meal on the terrace. Day 4: Capri After eating breakfast on the terrace again we got a ride from Luigi down into Sorrento where a bus would pick us up for our day trip to the island of Capri. We took a boat out to the island that first stopped at the famous Blue Grotto. We paid to go into this grotto in smaller boats, and even though it is said to be illegal to swim in the grotto, if you paid a little more they would let you. Dad, Hailee and Hannah jumped at the chance and relished swimming in the blue glow of the water inside the cave. It was an awesome experience!
23: Once we got back on the boat it took us around the island and dropped us off at the beach. We were given 5 hours to explore the island so we got started walking up the steep incline on a pretty path filled with flowers and great views while the rest of the people from the boat waited to pay for a taxi or bus to take them up. We did some shopping, took pictures, and ate at a café in a square at the top. Capri, as well as the Amalfi coast, is known for making sandals. Hailee thought it might be nice to get a pair until seeing that they cost about 85 Euros/pair on average. After walking back down to the beach mom and Hilary sat at a café in the shade to relax and have a drink while Hailee, Hannah and dad went swimming. Hailee & Hannah quickly discovered large rocks that other beachgoers were jumping off of so we decided to give it a try. It was a lot of fun and we did it several times, Hailee even tried a few flips! We got mom to take some action shots of this and even got dad to jump off the rocks a few times too. Once the boat was back for us we rode it to the mainland and took a van back to Sorrento. We walked around Sorrento shopping and then stopped for pizza for dinner (we couldn’t handle another 5-course meal!). Luigi picked us up in town and took us back to the B&B where mom & dad went to the pool while the 3 H’s read on the balcony. We then watched some soccer while enjoying some wine, as it was our last night in Sorrento. Day 5: Rome After breakfast Luigi drove us down into Sorrento where we took the train back to Napoli and then switched to a fast train to Rome. Once we walked to the hotel and checked in we set off to do some sightseeing. First we walked by the Querinale Palace, which is where the President of Italy lives. Then we walked to the Trevi Fountain, which was packed with people, and took some of the typical coin-throwing pictures. After that we headed to Pantheon, where we ate dinner at a nearby restaurant. Our last stop was Piazza Navona, where we took some jumping pictures and walked around, looking at all the vendors in the square. One man was trying to sell scarves to Hannah, who, after repeatedly saying she wasn’t interested, finally said “NO MEANS NO”, to which the man responded, “Mamma Mia!” and walked away. It was pretty funny! By the time we got back to the hotel it was almost 11pm and we went right to bed. Day 6: Rome After having breakfast at our hotel we walked to the Forum, where we spent several hours touring the ruins with, you guessed it, audio guides for dad and Hannah. We took some pictures there as well as at Palentine Hill, and then ventured to the Coliseum. Having bought tickets for both the Forum and Coliseum at the Forum, we got to bypass a huge line of people to get into the Coliseum. We took pictures and Hannah got a gold bracelet of the Coliseum. My dad wanted to see the “Circus Maximus”, which ended up being just an open field. We joked about watching out for chariots while walking across it. We then took the metro to the Spanish Steps, where we had lunch inside on a side street. After taking pictures on the Spanish Steps we spent a few hours shopping in the fashion district. Or should I say, mom, dad & Hailee waited as Hilary & Hannah shopped! Hilary brought 12 dresses with her on the trip, and bought another 6 or so! Before heading back to the hotel we sought out two of the churches in the Path of Illumination from the book Angels and Demons to take some pictures. Once we were back at the hotel, we showered and felt so much better after walking around in the heat all day. We ate dinner outside at a restaurant near our hotel and then watched the end of the soccer game while mom & dad went for a walk. Day 7: Rome We had breakfast at the hotel and then took the metro to Vatican City where we waited in line to get inside the museums. We spent about 3 hours in there, with a brief stop at the cafeteria for a snack. After the museums we went into St. Peter’s Basilica and took pictures. We also took a minute to pray for those friends and family who needed it. After we got outside, the 3 H’s took some jumping pictures in front of the Vatican – hopefully no one considers this sacrilegious! After lunch at a local place we made our way to Castel San Angelo, which is the “Lair of the Illuminati” from Angels & Demons. There were tents set up selling clothes, jewelry, purses, etc. along the river that we walked by. Once we got to the metro, we discovered there was a strike and it would not open again for another hour so we trekked all the way back to our hotel in the heat, stopping at the Trevi Fountain again. We showered at the hotel and again went to eat dinner outside right around the corner from our hotel. We enjoyed some wine to celebrate our last night of the trip, and Hannah even entertained us with a street entertainer’s tambourine. After watching a bit of soccer, we got gelato and walked around before going to bed. Day 8: Flying Home Hailee & dad got up early and went for a run down to the Coliseum and back. It was a Saturday morning and not many people were out. After showering we had breakfast and packed up all our bags to head back to the train station. Once we got to the airport we checked in for our flights, which included one to Amsterdam, and then to Toronto. Overall it was a great trip with great pictures and memories – but we were so glad to be home and not be a tourist anymore!